This study aimed at assessing the effect of the observation method (direct or from video) and the effect of the presence of an observer on the behavioural results in veal calves kept on a commercial farm. To evaluate the effect of the observation method, 20 pens (four to five calves per pen) were observed by an observer for 60 min (two observation sessions of 30 min) and video-recorded at the same time. To evaluate the effect of the presence of the observer in front of the pen, 24 pens were video-recorded on 4 consecutive days and an observer was present in front of each pen for 60 min (two observation sessions of 30 min) on the third day. Behaviour was recorded using instantaneous scan sampling. For the study of the observer's effect, the analysis was limited to the posture, abnormal oral behaviour and manipulation of substrates. The two observation methods gave similar results for the time spent standing, but different results for all other behaviours. The presence of an observer did not affect the behaviour of calves at day level; however, their behaviour was affected when the observer was actually present in front of the pens. A higher percentage of calves were standing and were manipulating substrate in the presence of the observer, but there was no effect on abnormal oral behaviour. In conclusion, direct observations are a more suitable observation method than observations from video recordings for detailed behaviours in veal calves. The presence of an observer has a short-term effect on certain behaviours of calves that will have to be taken into consideration when monitoring these behaviours.